Tata-Mistry Tussle: SC To Hear Final Arguments On 2 December

The final arguments in the Mistry-Tata case will be heard by the Supreme Court on 2 December.

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Cyrus Mistry (L) and Ratan Tata (R).
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to put the legal battle related to appointment of Cyrus Mistry as the executive chairman of Tata Group, for final arguments on 2 December. In December 2019, the National Company Appellate Law Tribunal (NCLAT) had passed the order restoring Mistry as executive chairman and held the appointment of Natarajan Chandrasekaran as executive chairman illegal. On 10 January, the apex court had stayed the NCLAT order.

Senior advocate CA Sundaram, representing Mistry, on 19 November, informed the apex court that they have filed an intervention application (IA). Sundaram submitted that the new IA only seeks an additional relief, as the earlier IA did not cover this.

The Final Hearing: What SC Justices Say

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian told Sundaram, "Why have you filed the IA...why don't we go ahead with the final hearing?" The bench reminded him that it had kept the matter today for final hearing, yet an IA has been filed. "You file an IA, which requires replies and argument," said the Chief Justice, citing that the court had kept the matter for final hearing. After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court said, "We will list it for December 2 for final hearing."

On 22 September, the Supreme Court had restricted further fundraising by Shapoorji Pallonji group from pledging or transferring Tata Sons shares owned by them till 28 October.

The top court had said the group should not take any further action on the shares they have already pledged for raising funds. Sundaram, representing Shapoorji Pallonji group, argued before the bench that the other party is creating havoc on its fundraising plans, and the situation is coming to a stage where his client is being blocked in every possible way.

Pallonji Group has around 18 percent shareholding of Tata Sons, and Tata Trusts owns 66 percent stake in Tata Sons. Counsel for Cyrus Mistry contended before the bench that banks were refusing to give credit in the backdrop of pendency of this plea, and cited that his client's company has nearly 60,000 employees.

What Did Both Sides Argue?

Pallonji group had argued that there is a clear difference between pledging and transferring of shares, and Tata Sons is advertising the pendency of this plea and it having an impact on the company's effort to restructure loans with banks.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Tata Sons, had submitted before the bench that they are creating mischief. Salve argued that if Pallonji group defaults, then banks could sell the pledged shares.

He urged the top court to stop the sale of shares and emphasised that in four weeks, the situation will be beyond repair, if Mistry is not stopped.

"If they want to sell, we are willing to buy. Pallonji group must be restricted from raising further funds by pledging shares," submitted Salve. The bench noted that it seems, Mistry is not ready to maintain the status quo.

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